Asbestosis is a serious and progressive respiratory illness caused by the prolonged inhalation of asbestos dust. Since symptoms don’t typically arise until decades after asbestos exposure, diagnosis of asbestosis may not occur until the disease has progressed significantly.
How is an Asbestosis Diagnosis Made?
In exploring a diagnosis of asbestosis, your doctor should be made aware of any history of asbestos exposure, including the length of your exposure, the use (or lack) of protective clothing and equipment, and whether or not your other household members have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.
After taking your medical history, your doctor will conduct a physical examination. During the exam, he or she will likely use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs for sounds that are characteristic of an asbestosis diagnosis. The doctor may also check you for clubbed or misshapen fingertips, another symptom of lung disease.
Based on your exam results, your doctor might order other tests to confirm an asbestosis diagnosis. These tests may include:
Chest X-rays: If you have a history of asbestos exposure in the workplace or at home, the doctor may order a chest X-ray to confirm an asbestosis diagnosis. An X-ray can show pleural plaques and other lung abnormalities that suggest the presence of asbestosis. However, X-rays are limited in detecting early asbestosis.
Pulmonary function tests: In this type of asbestosis diagnosis test, certain techniques are used to determine your lung capacity, lung and chest wall mechanics, and how efficient your lungs are at transferring oxygen from the air into your bloodstream.
CT scans: A computed tomography (CT) scan can be more helpful in a diagnosis of asbestosis than a standard chest X-ray. This type of test can detect asbestosis in its early stages and also highlight the flat, raised patches on the lungs that are typical in cases of advanced asbestosis.
Biopsy: If your initial imaging tests show suspected tumors of the pleura (the thin covering of the lungs), your doctor may order a biopsy (the surgical removal of a small sample of pleural tissue) to obtain more information for an asbestosis diagnosis. In some cases, a needle may be used to remove a sample of fluid surrounding your lungs in a procedure called thoracentesis. The tissue or fluid sample is then analyzed in the lab to determine if you have mesothelioma or another type of cancer rather than or in addition to asbestosis.
Are You Entitled to Compensation?
If you’ve been diagnosed with asbestosis or another asbestos-related disease, call Sokolove Law at 1-888-360-4215 to see if a mesothelioma law firm can help you get compensation.